Self Control

By Leo Gura - February 20, 2014 | 12 Comments

Why self-control is so difficult and how to take back control of your life.

Video Transcript

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Hey, this is Leo from, and in this video I’m going to talk about the concept of self-control.

What is self-control? Why is it important? How do we get more of it in our lives? What can it really do for us? What are some strategies and techniques we can use to boost the amount of self-control that we have? I’m glad you’re listening to this video, that you searched for this.

Mastering Your Own Psychology

Self-control is one of the most important concepts to understand in your life. It’s one of the most important contributors to your success and happiness in life. That why I founded, and that’s why my motto is “mastering your own psychology”.

I really do believe that when you master yourself, the whole world opens up to you. By mastering yourself, you’re creating more self-control. It’s being able to discipline yourself. It’s being able to direct your own life. I’m pretty sure you can understand, without me going into all the nuances, what kind of ramifications that can have for you, if you had more self-control.

If you had more self-control you could have stronger relationships, a better love life. You could have much better health. You could have a ridiculous level of success with your finances. You could have a really powerful contribution that you leave behind, the impact you make on the world through the work you do.

This all starts with self-control. Of course, just how you feel in life, getting rid of all the depressive episodes, all the negative thinking, all the worry, all the pessimism, all the anger, frustration, overwhelm. Getting rid of all that, getting all those emotional things handled and feeling excited and positive and proud and joyful and peaceful, that is all the difference between those two states, those two conditions, those two types of life, is self control, is how much of it you have.

Self-Mastery Above All

I would submit to you right now that your life’s work is self-control, to develop self-control, to develop self-mastery. That is it. If it’s not, right now for you, than make it so. It should be. This should be your life’s work. Everything else is secondary. Everything else will fall into place once you have self-control.

Like I said, your health, your relationships, your business, your money situation. If you just work on yourself, that stuff will handle it. Stop looking for solutions in the outer world. Start looking for solutions in the inner world. This is the next point I wanted to make. This is an incredibly powerful distinction.

You will need multiple exposures to grasp the significance of this. I hope to make a dent in it right now. This is the distinction between inner and outer world. This is so powerful. What does this mean? This means that we really live simultaneously in two worlds.

One the one hand, you have the outer world of circumstances, that is right here. The outer world is the computer that you’re looking at, the chair you’re sitting in, the house you have or don’t have, how much money you have in your bank account, the relationship you’re in or you’re not in, the country you reside in, the city you’re in, the shape your body is in. That is the outer world.

What’s the inner world? The inner world is the world of feelings, emotions, thoughts or, to use one simple term for all of it, psychology. It’s your psychology. It’s what’s going on in here. This is powerful, because on the one hand it seems obvious, but it’s powerful on many deeper layers.

The External Medusa

Here’s why it’s powerful. We are constantly concerned with what’s going on in the outer world. So much so, that we’re mesmerised and paralyzed by outer circumstances. It destroys what’s going on in here. Of course, what’s going on in here is ultimately what you care about.

Whatever you’re chasing out there, you only care about it because of what it does to you in here. Think about it. That million dollars you want to earn? Yes, you want to have a million dollars, but in the end, you want to have a million dollars because it does something for you in here. It literally sends out some chemical in here that’s making you feel good, which is why you’re pursuing it.

The same thing with your relationship. If you want to get married, or you want to find that awesome girlfriend or boyfriend, why do you want it? Yes, you want it in the outer world, but ultimately, it’s going to come back and hit you in the inner world. It’s that sense of love you want to feel. That sense of happiness, that intimacy, whatever.

You want that. That is the connection there. The problem is we tend to think all the solutions and all the challenges in life are out there. It’s the boss. My boss is not as good as he should be. It’s my spouse, my spouse is doing crazy things, behaving in irrational ways. It’s the guy at work who is not doing the job that he’s supposed to be doing.

It’s the guy on my commute to work that cut me off and he was being an asshole. It’s the fact that I have no money in my bank account, that’s a problem. It’s the economy, the politics, the policies of this country are not allowing me to do the things I want to do, that’s the problem.

That is the biggest trap you can get caught in. It’s to become a victim to the outer world and not pay enough attention to your inner world. The people that are successful and have the kind of life that they want, these are the people that exercise self-control. I’m tying all this back to self-control. I’m going to tie it together really soon here.

What they’re doing is reversing the process here. Notice the process. Outer world, me being so focused on the outer world that the outer world mesmerises me, I am reacting to the outer world, I am not creating what I want, I am a victim. That’s one way that process can run. Here’s the opposite way the process runs.

I am a creator. I have belief in myself. I have self-esteem. I have resourcefulness. I have drive. I have vision, I have goals. I have self-control, I have discipline, I have emotional mastery. Now, my inner reality, my inner world is so strong that I impose it on the outer world. I change the outer world to whatever I want it to be.

Creator Vs. Victim

Creator mindset versus victim mindset. Notice the difference there. Do you feel that power? I get a sense of, I get a surge, I get chills running up my spine when I even say it, because of the difference in power there. Totally different.

Most people are stuck in the victim mindset. Most people are too concerned about the outer world. Let’s tie this back to self-control. To be able to influence the outer world, you need to have you psychology mastered. When you master your own psychology, it becomes easier to influence the world, otherwise the world is always influencing you.

Let’s talk about the next point, which is why control is really hard. Because developing self-control, self-discipline is not easy. This is why most people do not do it, and most people’s lives are shit. It’s because they do not take the proper steps to develop self-control.

That’s because there is emotional labour involved. There is struggle involved with building self-control. Here’s why: really think about it. Think about who you are as a biological entity. You are this body and this mind, but lets say you are this organism basically, that’s made up of trillions of cells.

Trillions of cells. Do you understand the complexity that is happening there? How many chemical and biological processes are happening in your body right now, just so you can sit there and breathe for another five seconds? Just so you can think, just so you can interpret what I’m saying to you, just so you can see me, the complexity that’s involved there.

Think of the environment you’re in. In a sense, you’re in a hostile environment. You have differences in temperature, you have threats to your survival, you need food, you need oxygen, you need water. You have all these needs. You have psychological needs, you have physical needs.

If something goes wrong in the outer world, all of a sudden, this organism disintegrates. You die. This is a matter of life and death. You are this complex organism and your brain is a system for regulating you to make sure that you’re balanced, and that the forces of life, the forces of the universe that you’re in, the forces here right now, do not kill you, so that you are able to reproduce and create the next generation.

Literally, right now, your brain is looking out for things it perceives might kill you. You’re walking down the street, it’s looking out that you don’t step out in the middle of the road and get hit by a car. The reason you worry about paying your bills is because you link that to becoming destitute and living in rags on the street, and catching some disease there, and they’re dying prematurely.

The reason you care about your relationships is because you want to reproduce, and you’re worried about finding a good partner, finding a good match, making sure that you have kids and a nice family. You’re looking out for those things.

The Thermostat In Your Head

It’s hard to do that. Just think about what has to happen. It’s almost like, imagine your brain as being a thermostat. A thermostat is a self-regulating system. What’s happening there is you have a negative feedback loop.

When it gets too hot, the air conditioning kicks in and brings the temperature down. When it gets too cold, the heater kicks in and brings the temperature up, to maintain this equilibrium. You body, these trillions of cells you’ve got, they all needed to maintain equilibrium. Your psychology needs to maintain its equilibrium.

To bring this deep point home, this equilibrium is difficult to maintain inherently. It is not an easy challenge to solve. This is actually a physical challenge. Think of yourself as a thermostat, except your brain is not controlling one factor — it’s controlling a million factors. It has to account for all the forces in your life, so much more complex than a thermostat.

Think about the network of connections your brain has. All these mini-thermostats, thousands of them in your brain, that are controlling for your survival, your reproduction, the air that you’re taking in, the success you’re having, whether you’re approved at work, your social status, how hungry you are.

All these factors are coming into play, and all of them need to be somehow reconciled, balanced out and turned into a course of action that you’re taking. You’re moving your hands, you’re moving your mouth, you’re moving your lips, you’re moving your body, you’re thinking certain thoughts.

That is guided by this complex essentially thermostat that you have in your brain, that is trying to maintain a sense of balance. That’s hard. I’m surprised we’re as good at maintaining balance as we are. Of course, a lot of us are not as good at maintaining balance as we want to be.

That is why you’re falling through on your gym, that’s why you’re falling through on your diet plans, that’s why you’re falling through on starting your business, that is why you’re falling through on your relationships.

It’s because you have this complex thermostat, and it’s doing the best it can, but that self-control is difficult to develop. The way to develop it is through work. You have to develop emotional intelligence, you have to go out there and you have to start thinking, start introspecting, start watching yourself, start building up a consciousness.

A Battle Of Wills

What happens is that when you do this, literally — I mean, I don’t have scientific proof for this — but what I think is happening physically in your brain, is that you have these various networks of neurons, that are vying for control. You notice this, for example, when you have a decision to make, and you don’t know which way to go, you’re split between option A and option B.

You have one voice inside your head saying “Well, you should go do that. It’s going to be great.” And you have this other voice saying “No, that’s not going to work out, that’s going to be horrible.” And you don’t know how to decide.

That’s literally like you have different forces, that’s that thermostat I’m talking about, you have these opposing forces. One is saying it’s too cold, the other is saying it’s too hot, how is it going to pan out? There has to be a war. There has to be a clash going on inside.

That’s literally what’s going on inside your brain, you have clashing neural networks. They’re vying for control. Some of them sometimes win out, other times others win out. If you do personal development, and you start to bring more awareness into this, you start to learn, you start to build knowledge, you start to go out there and you start to experiment and notice what happens when you experiment, and register that feedback, really take it in, you start to get extra layers of control built in your mind.

You actually build up your prefrontal cortex, right here, which is able to control, for example, the different impulses that you have. It controls whether you’re going to splurge on that donut you know you shouldn’t be splurging on. It controls whether you’re going to keep up with your gym routine. It control whether you’re going to start that business, you’re going to have enough courage to start that business.

It controls whether you’re going to explode at your spouse in a fit of rage when they do something that bothers you, or that you didn’t want them to do. Ultimately, what personal development is, it actually takes place on a physical level, where you have these neural connections being built.

If you do this, and you build this up, then you’re always actively engaged. You’re always actively engaged and you’re looking for opportunities to improve yourself, to grow. What happens is that you start to build these additional layers, and those build extra self-control into you.

You start to notice that you get more awareness and more ability to control your feelings, more ability to control your emotions, more ability to control your behaviour, more ability to persist in spite of the fear, to have courage, more ability to learn, more ability to introspect, to be very honest with yourself.

This is a great thing. It just snowballs, and you start to build more and more self-control. On the other hand, if you’re being undisciplined, if you’re not observing the practices, and you’re not doing the things you need to be doing in life, then what happens is you have the reverse process.

Your brain turns to mush. Your prefrontal cortex becomes weak. You are not able to execute on the things your higher self wants to execute on. What happens is that your lower self takes control over your higher self. That is a very bad place to be in in life.

Even though that lower self got what it wanted, it got comfort, it feels good, the higher self’s still there. It’s not dead. It wants you to be living to your full potential. When you’re not living to your full potential you feel guilty, you feel horrible, you feel like your soul has been drained. That’s one of the worst feelings to have in life. I definitely don’t want that for you.

Onto The Practicalities

What are some things you can do to build self-control? This was a deep, philosophical, almost metaphysical conversation that we just had. Let me give you some practical stuff. One — disciplined practice. Have disciplined practices. That means that if you’re getting up in the morning, get up at a certain time when you want to be getting up.

That means, if you have the intention to brush your teeth and floss your teeth all the time, twice a day or whatever, do that. That means, if you have intentions to meditate, do that. If you have intentions to journal, do that. If you have intentions to show up at work on time all the time, do that. If you have intentions of eating healthy, do that.

If you have intentions of going to the gym, do that. Be very disciplined and consistent about it. That practice, with whatever area of your life you point it in, if you’re just disciplined and you’re executing consistently, that trains your brain. It requires the buildup of prefrontal cortex just to do it.

It’s like going to the gym and pumping your biceps. It builds them up. That’s what happens with your brain. Have disciplined practices. Stay on top of those. That’s the bottom line, quickest way to build self-control, to follow through on your discipline practices. Set a few new ones every once in a while, and build those up into habits.

Next — unhook from media and stimulation. You are overstimulated right now. Most of you are overstimulated with television, radio, gossip from your friends, advertising, negative influences from your family, from friends, all over the place. You’re overstimulated by that stuff.

You need to unhook yourself from it. Get back to your source. Spend some time by yourself in solitude. Think about things. Be introspective. Raise your level of consciousness. When you do this, you start to develop a level of self-control that’s just amazing. You cannot have self-control when you’re plugged in, when you’re plugged in to the grid.

What happens is that your mind becomes like a lazy slug. It plugs into the grid and what you’re looking for is that cheap source of energy that you can just plug into. You just want to plug into that TV and let go. You just want to plug into that chocolate ice cream and just let go. You want to plug into that relationship, that comfortable relationship and just let go.

You want to plug into sitting there on the internet all day and browsing forums and flaming other people and leaving comments. Browsing Facebook and chatting with your friends, gossiping about the latest celebrity news. You’re just plugging in. You’re letting your brain turn to mush. How can you have self-control when you do that?

You can’t. You’ve got to snip that stuff off, cut it all off, spend some time thinking, being alone, introspecting, coming up with goals, coming up with visions, coming up with ideas what you want to accomplish in your life. That is how to start to get your control back.

Wrap Up

I’m going to end it there, that’s going to do it for self-control, please like this and share it if you would. Of course, I’m going to direct you to, to sign up for my free newsletter. You get two amazing bonuses for free when you do – an exclusive nineteen part video series about busting through limiting beliefs.

That’s over ninety minutes worth of video that you can’t find anywhere else. Then, you also have a chance, every month I give away two hours of free live coaching on whatever issues you’ve got. I give that away to my subscribers, so if you get fortunate, you can potentially grab that as well.

Ultimately, I want you to follow along. I want you to subscribe and follow along with not because I need you to be on my list, but because this is something I believe will transform your life.

The ideas I’ve studied over the last five years have opened my mind so much to what is possible in life, what I can personally achieve, and what everyone can personally achieve. I’m really no one special. What I can achieve, you can achieve.

The only difference is my understanding of some of these psychological principles. I am developing my self-mastery and I want to help you develop your self-mastery too. When I see what is possible for me, I get so excited about what’s possible for you.

I want to go out there and share these techniques with you. Over the next few years, as I’m researching more and more of this stuff — I’ve literally committed my life to researching all the nuances of the psychology of success and happiness — as I research all this stuff and I bring it to you, your life can transform.

If you just listen to it, if you follow up with it and you take some action on it. Right now, I want you to take some action. Don’t just let this video fly by you and go off and watch the next video. I want you to take some action.

I want you to say “I’m committed to this. I want to master myself. This is important. This is going to change my life, this is going to change the life of my family. It’s going to change the life of my kids. This is it. My life’s work is self-control. Everything else will fall into place once I get that handled.”

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neha says:

great video. great stuff

Tracy says:

Do you have anything for controlling anxiety and panic attacks? I need them to control them as I am driving or in public. Your other videos have helped a lot. Thanks in advanced

Leo Gura says:

No, not yet.

Bailey Chapman says:

Leo – thanks for your videos. I am on the path to enlightenment consciously, as compared to a lot of people who may have openings in their life but only have concepts or judgements about ‘enlightenment’. My girlfriend is such a person right now and I mostly feel that I cannot explain many things to her until she has the ears to listen. When I have tried, she has resisted and fought and gotten angry. She also says she cannot meditate when she feels a lot of anxiety and is crippled by a negative self image and fear about financial future and doesn’t realize yet that these are her ego. Any advice?

Jane says:

Hi Tracy

The very best information and help for panic attacks is available on a site called panic away. You can be put onto a free newsletter which has masses of good information. The writer has been through the process of panic attacks and knows the subject inside out.

Also, it’s VERY important for you to stop the intake of ALL caffeine because caffeine is known to cause anxiety, depression and thought and sleep disorders. So no tea, coffee, chocolate, energy drinks or guana which is pure caffeine. That alone will calm you down more than you can imagine.

Also of course, no smoking because cigarette are filled with neurotoxins and no alcohol which is also a depressant.

You can live a calm and happy and sane feeling life again. You ARE completely sane it’s just that when you feel panic, you feel you are out of control. You are fine. You will be okay. Definitely check out Panic Away and also DARE which is his new thing. But getting physically well first is very important.

No sugar, candy etc and nothing like cream or junk food will also help you a lot. All these things are based in very ordinary mismanagement of our diet etc.

Kathy L says:

as above so below, only you use different words. the micro and macro. Thank you Leo.

Abby says:

Leo, you gave me the spark that i needed to change my life!

Heloise says:

Thanks Leo. Enjoyed this one. Love the description of the inner and outer world. I am aware of it (internal and external Locus of Control) but love the way you put it. Very powerful. I believe that I have an internal locus of control and that I control what happens to me and in my life but I do tend to focus on the outer world still and let it control me too much. Will definitely focus even more in the inner world and controlling my thoughts and being more disciplined. Thanks again. Regards, Heloise Botha, Cape Town, South Africa.

Valeria says:

Powerful concepts!!! Thanks a lot! You make me realize how much we can change our lives if only we apply ourselves to better our inner world! I am fully commit in ted in studying and applying the knowledge you are delivering!!!n

Warren says:

Hi Leo,

Thank you for helping us become the people we want to be.

Your videos are inspiring and a great reference to go back to when we face our day to day challenges which life throws at us.
South Africa

Moritz says:

Hi Leo,

Thank you, first of all, for your work with these videos!

As you were talking about people just plugging in and letting go, doing essentially the opposite of what works to achieve self control, I wondered if that also holds for music.

I feel like I already know the answer, since I hold on to music for the sake of letting go. Yet I also have read about how music is one of the few things that involve your entire brain at once…

Guess I would just like to hear your opinion on the use of music for the purpose of relaxation.

Thanks a lot in advance!

Max Raoy Gron says:

I now understand my psychology, I know I said that on this website before but this time I’m 99% sure. I’m suspicious that this is 100% consistently undoubtedly the case that my whole psychology is dying for a cause (although not something great), ultranormalism, and living for loving and accepting myself, controlling myself, wisdom, contemplations, visualisations, the truth, spiral dynamics, self-image,
consciousness, time management, and enlightenment. I see now that what I’m doing is is about to get the thumbs down fast, unappreciated, unhonoured, unaccepted. And I think it’s disgraceful how nothing in my life bloody well works, I may as well be a modest Australian and not a patriot to better do what Leo says because national pride isn’t going to get any results! The proudly Australian, the cultural part of me has to be destroyed.

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